2017 – Not a Good Year (so far)

One of my squirrel friends this morning, sniffing a peanut I had just tossed out. He has nothing to do with this post. I just thought he was cute.

In my family, usually when we arrive at year-end, we tend to look back on the year that has passed and ask whether or not we are sad to see it go or glad that it is finally over.  So far, for me personally, 2017 has been a “stinker” of a year. I will be ecstatic to see it end.

April was particularly bad. March wasn’t that great either. I visited the Dentist early in the year for a cleaning, and I was told that the one tooth I had that was mostly filling and little tooth finally had deteriorated to the point that I had to deal with it. It needed to be crowned.  The first crown appointment was scheduled for March, and when I arrived and told the dentist that the tooth was hot and cold sensitive and generally a huge, aching pain in the ass, he said I needed a root canal. Getting in to see a specialist that didn’t demand thousands of dollars up front even though my insurance eventually covered the procedure in full proved to be a hassle. I did end up with a wonderful endodontist who made the root canal procedure simple and easy. The end result was a crowned tooth that no longer bothers me.

Six days after the root canal procedure I had my car accident. Actually, it was the little, old lady driving into me incident. I was minding my own business, mostly past her on her left, when she decided to drive into my rear passenger side door. That little fiasco ended up with me having to repair my car and replace a door, and while I wasn’t ticketed, I was listed by the police officer as a “contributing factor”. Why? Because she couldn’t stay in her own lane and decided to share mine? 

My poor baby (in April)

June brought me a jury duty summons for three months of Federal Jury duty service from mid-July to mid-October. I got out of it until September when I was called to appear. I then got excused when I showed them my doctor’s note asking to be excused for health reasons.

Which brings me to August and September. Anyone who follows me knows what happened in August. I ended up in the Emergency Room on August 16.  I had a colonoscopy on August 25. I had an upper endoscopy on August 28. I had a CT scan on August 30. I had a repeat CT scan on September 22. I was admitted to the hospital and spent five nights there from September 22 to September 27. All of this was thanks to diverticulitis.  I am on disability at the moment, and I have paperwork that needs to be completed and signed by the doctor before I can return to work.  I saw both my gastroenterologist and my primary doctor this week. I am on a low fiber, low residue and lactose free diet. Go ahead and Google that. There’s not much I can eat right now. I have been told that diverticulitis messes with IBS big-time, and it may be months before I am back to normal (for me).

Me, tucked comfortably into my hospital bed, with my best friend, the combination remote control-light switch-nurse call button on my shoulder

Unless I win the lottery in October and really, really great things start happening in November and December, I can safely say that 2017 sucked big-time. I will be more than excited to kick it out the door on December 31st. I am also hoping that by year end I will feel more like myself again. Fingers crossed, guys.

The Punch in the Mouth

I’ve worked hard over the past few weeks on turning fear into a learning experience. I’ve had a lot thrown at me in a short period of time, and I still don’t have all the answers, but I’m farther ahead than I was.

Not knowing what was wrong with my stomach was a frightening thing. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be that way, and I kept meaning to call the doctor to discuss it. I put it off because I knew what the outcome would be – further testing. Why I was so scared of that is a mystery to me now.

One of my husband’s favorite expressions has always been, “sometimes running away from a punch in the mouth is worse than the punch in the mouth”, an inelegant way of saying sometimes it’s better to turn and face your fears down. It was time to stop running away.

Today I faced two fears down.

I finally got called in for jury duty. They were picking jurors for a two-week Federal Court criminal trial. No, I didn’t want to go. I was a nervous wreck over it, terrified that they’d keep me. It was problematic on two levels – the whole diverticulitis not making me a good candidate for sitting still for long periods of time and another change in personnel at work. I’d be leaving my employer in the lurch with no backup while putting myself through a lot of stress that wasn’t going to agree with my guts.

I was determined to make the best of a bad situation when it occurred to me that I absolutely didn’t have to. I asked my gastroenterologist for a written excuse – a “get out of jury duty” letter, something he was more than happy to provide for me.

I arrived at the Federal building at 7:50 am today – an ungodly time for a non-morning person. I sat and waited for an hour along with my fellow jurors. When they called us upstairs to check us in and settle us into the juror’s room, I pulled out my doctor’s excuse. The clerk asked me to sit on a bench off to the side, and I had to wait patiently while they registered all the other jurors in the pool. When she was done, she reviewed my paperwork again, and she released me! Just like that, I was free to go. I was back at my desk at work before 9:00.

Shortly after settling in for the day, my gastroenterologist called me, and I had to face my second fear. The rest of the biopsy results were back on my testing. In my small intestines, they did in fact find a polyp. He hadn’t seen it on the scope, but they grabbed it by accident when they were taking samples for the biopsy. He said it was benign, but I have to have another colonoscopy in six months to check that area and make sure it doesn’t grow back or turn into something more worrisome.

I know that I’m on the right track, and I’m actually glad I had the scans now. I’d rather find something early than wait because I’m scared of taking the prep – that was foolish. My stomach is slowly improving with more good days than bad, but it’s been a slow recovery. I’m down 12-1/2 pounds, and my clothes are loose, but this diet is not something I’d recommend.

I have an appointment at my primary care doctor’s office on Friday, and I’m seeing my oldest son’s doctor (my regular doctor is still out on maternity leave). In addition to the diverticulitis, the CT scan showed that I have two non-specific “bone islands”. Bone islands are described online as a common benign bone lesion – growths of bone where they shouldn’t be. I have to go in to discuss whether we want to do further scans. It’s amazing the things that get found when someone starts poking around inside a nearly sixty year old body, isn’t it?

I’ve had enough punches in the mouth, so to speak, this month to last me for a few years. I’m done now.

Images courtesy of Pinterest and waymarking.com

Oh, No!

I was first called for County court jury duty thirty-two years ago when I was 26. I served as a juror on a criminal trial for a week. It was a kidnapping, assault, attempted rape, attempted murder case. The guy that we convicted was a repeat offender. The judge kept the jury after it was all over to tell us we’d done the right thing. The creep had just gotten out of prison, having served time for doing the exact same crime. 

Seven years later at age 33 I was called for County court again. I made it as far as a courtroom and then we were told the parties had settled so we were thanked for our service and sent home. 

Seven years later at age 40 my old friend County court called me again. This time I phoned in for almost a week, and they didn’t need me to come in. 

I went eighteen years without hearing a peep. I got home tonight and found a jury duty summons waiting for me. Not County court this time. Oh, no, that would be too easy. This time it was US District Court, and it’s not a week worth of commitment. Oh, no, this time my commitment is for ninety days. Ninety. Days. I’m on the hook from July 12th until October 11th. 

If I don’t get on a trial, I remain on call for ninety days. I’m not sure what happens if I do serve on a trial. Am I done, or do I stay on call?  Like any jury duty summons, there’s no way out of it. I’m stuck. 

If only they’d waited another twelve years. If I were 70, I could get excused. If I were caring for babies or the elderly, I could get excused. If I was considered essential to my job, I could get excused. While I’d like to think I’m pretty important, I don’t think the court would agree. 

So I’ll have a new experience whether I want one or not. Maybe I should add blue and purple highlights to the pink in my hair if I have to report. I’d make a statement anyway.